Michael Larson was an unemployed ice cream truck driver. He had nothing better to do than to watch TV. So, he did that. He enjoyed a game show called “Press Your Luck.” While he was watching, he figured out the patterns on their game board. He got on the show, and, using those patterns, kept playing the board past the thirty minutes planned for the show. He came back the next episode and eventually handed off the board when he got too tired to keep playing right. He eventually won over $100,000 and a trip to the Bahamas by exploiting the loopholes in the games rules. Alas for Mr. Larson, he was whammied when all that money ended up in the hands of an investment scammer. The game show itself changed the board patterns and refused to air the episodes to keep others from exploiting their rules.
People have always looked for ways to exploit loopholes in the rules. There are some lawyers who seem to do nothing but look for loopholes in the laws that are passed. Ah, if only we could go back to simpler times, like the days of Jesus, to avoid all this foolishness. Apparently that wouldn’t work because the Pharisees were hard at work trying to find loopholes in God’s laws. They asked Jesus if it was ok to divorce a wife for any reason. “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
Jesus reminded the Pharisees of God’s plan for marriage in the beginning: a man and a woman would become one flesh and united for life. He added the phrase used in most Christian marriages: what God has joined together, let no one separate. That wasn’t good enough for the Pharisees though, and they pressed the matter. Didn’t Moses give us a loophole to escape marriage? We can give a woman a certificate of divorce. Jesus said that this was given because of their sinfulness – “hardness of heart” to be more specific. In this passage, Jesus reminds us of the purpose of marriage and God’s plan from the beginning of mankind. I wonder how He might react to some of the discussions of marriage today.
Lest we get too judgmental on the issue, we need to remember, Jesus was talking to people who thought they were better than God’s law and could find ways around it. He wasn’t talking to the divorced lady who had no means to support herself in those times. Were He to speak to lawmakers contemplating rules regarding marriage in any state, I believe He would remind them of God’s plan and purpose for marriage as stated in the Bible. It is because of that the I believe that we must speak out about God’s plan and purpose for marriage: one man, one woman, united as one flesh, for life. Were Jesus to be walking on the street dealing with mothers living in poverty because of divorce, or battered spouses, or single mothers who never were married I believe that He would approach them with compassion and grace. How often do we look at divorced women in poverty and wonder what they did wrong? Jesus would look at them and find ways to minister to them. Our call as Christians is to do no less. Our job is to minister to those people who have been victimized by others who have sought to find loopholes in God’s plans for life. When dealing with theory, we focus on what’s right. When dealing with the consequences of someone breaking God’s law, we need to focus on ministry. That’s a premise that would do the church well in reaching out to a world that needs to know God’s compassion and grace.
Oh Lord, remind me that people are hurting because they tried to go against Your law. Remind me that people are victims because others have tried to exploit loopholes in Your law. Help me to minister to all.